How cabling can speed up EV installation on a mass scale

The differences of cabling in Europe and the UK

The widespread use of flexible plastic conduit in mainland Europe strikes many in the UK as somewhat peculiar. Conversely, our European friends find the UK's penchant for encasing electrical equipment in metal equally unusual.

In the UK our power cables are sheathed in steel armour, even when positioned several meters above the ground. Our metal conduit is so robust, it requires specialised equipment, and we employ threading techniques similar to those used in plumbing, just to assemble the system.

This approach puzzles even the American electricians, who despite having their own affinity for the use of metal in electrical installations, find the concept of armour-plated electrical conduits bewildering!

Europe might be united on one thing; however, American wire nuts are a mystery worthy of their own blog and video. Despite years of attempts to standardise electrical installations worldwide, we still cling to traditional methods.

Mainland Europe prefers lightweight plastic conduits while the UK designs its electrical containment systems to endure well into the next century.

The problem with existing infrastructures

Occasionally the speed up of innovations surprises us, leading to default acceptance of new practices. Solar panels serve as a prime example with the entire world adopting a universal connector and cable standard.

If you are interested in witnessing a classic, prime example of British commercial, and electrical infrastructure, look at any underground or multi-story car park. The robust installations were engineered to endure for decades, however, what wasn't anticipated, was the need to accommodate hundreds of thousands of EV chargers within the next ten years.

This is where our use of metal containment presents a problem. Its' lack of flexibility makes it difficult to modify, and installation becomes a time-consuming process. This poses a significant challenge since most car parks that require EV chargers, such as those in office buildings or shared residential complexes, were constructed long before the adoption of electric vehicles was an everyday consideration.

The standard method of installing EV chargers involves wiring each charger independently to a distribution board, demanding significant infrastructure such as cabling, containment, and sizable power distribution boards.

This approach is not only time-consuming but also disrupts the operation of car parks during the electrical installation process.

Solving the future demands of EV and cabling

So what could be an innovative, new approach that works around the timely, costly issues mentioned above?

This is where the Podis distributed power system from Wieland Electric comes in, it's an approach that will be familiar to electricians who fit busbar trunking in factories, or under-floor busbar trunking in offices.

The flat cable serves as a busbar, designed to be mounted directly onto the ceiling or walls of the car park. At designated charge points, the tap-off boxes securely clamp around the cable, facilitating a connection to each electric vehicle charger.

The ingenious aspect lies in the method of establishing an electrical connection to the busbar cable. After positioning the tap-off box around the cable, there is no need for cutting or terminating any cables. Instead, by driving the innovative insulation-piercing screws directly into the cable, you effortlessly complete the connection.

Wieland defines this as insulation-piercing technology.

Wieland insulation-piercing technology

You may be working, how does the Podis distribution power system from Wieland Electric work?

let us explain, the screws have been carefully designed to make the exact contact point to the cable, ensuring you can't drive it any further than it needs to go. This eliminates the risk of getting it wrong and piercing through the other side to a minimum.

The ceiling of the connections and enclosure lid achieves an IP65 rating, rendering the system perfectly suited for exposed multi-story car parks and combatting the dust found in underground facilities.

If you have worked on wiring a commercial office block, you are likely familiar with Wieland Electric who are renowned for inventing the GST18 connection system, a firm favourite for modular wiring lighting control systems due to its plug-and-play convenience. A similar approach has been used with the Podis system where tap-off boxes can be fitted with waterproof RST connections further reducing the wiring time.

The Podis system's true advantage lies in its flexibility to parking facility operators. Initially, the busbar cable can be installed allowing for the effortless addition of an EV charger such as the Zaptec Pro, in response to demand. This is achieved by adding a tap-off box, or a tap-off box can be pre-installed next to each parking bay, enabling EV chargers to be connected easily in the future using the RST connector system.

You can install individual tap-off boxes or opt for a twin tap-off box to accommodate two spaces. The RST connectors are available pre-wired with 0.5 to three meters of cable, ensuring it can reach the location of the newly installed EV charger. Watch the video above at 5.24 to find out more about the process of stripping wires, module boxes, end-caps, tools for the job, and more.

Shared parking and EV charging

You might think that 63 amps isn't a sufficient amount of power to charge a full apartment block of electric vehicles. After all this amounts to the capacity for only six, 7kW single-phase chargers, however, the real bottleneck for EV charging often lies in the power supply available to the building, not the cabling to each charger.

In practice, not every EV owner arrives home with an empty battery, nor does the average driver travel 200 miles daily, and additionally, there is no immediate need for everyone to start charging as soon as they get home.

By integrating the Podis system with advanced chargers such as the Zaptec Pro which includes load management, it is possible for a signal Podis cable to support up to thirty charge bays.

This setup is ideal where visitors or residents who spend extended periods of time shopping, visiting leisure facilities, or simply enjoy being home for the evening.

The key to a successful installation lies in which EV charger you choose and how you apply the wiring regulations. Many common issues are solved by the charger itself such as the Zaptec Pro and GARO unit which feature full RCD and over-current protection within the charger.

Zaptec prides its innovative EV charger solutions focusing on implementing the highest quality components and safety standards.